The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update


November 2, 2013

Big names entertained at Elwood opera houses

One remains today, other destroyed by fire


Another example of Kramer's ingenuity was the installation of two floors in the theater, one over the other. While the top floor was slanted towards the stage to provide patrons with the best possible viewing experience, the floor underneath was flat. This floor was there in case someday the theater would be used for other purposes requiring a flat surface. As it turned out, he knew what he was doing.

The theater was located on the second and third floors. The interior dimensions were approximately 62 feet wide by approximately 150 feet in length, including the stage, for approximately 9, 300 square feet.

The theater, which could seat 850 people, was managed by the builder's son, J.A. Kramer. The drawings of the interior do not reveal if all the seating was on the main floor. But, since the building was three stories high it is a safe assumption that there was balcony seating available on the third floor.

During its 11 years of operation the Elwood Opera House was host to a variety of famous personalities from the entertainment world. Many who performed there are memorialized today through an attractive display of photographs on the second floor exhibited by the building's current owner, Randall Hall.

While not familiar names today, they were certainly popular, well known and huge entertainment stars during their era. To name only a few from the vast array of photographs that have been neatly hung by Keith Israel, the great-great grandson of Gustav Kramer, they are: Frank Keenan, Maurice Barrymore, Eddie Blondell, William S. Hart, Marie Doro, Charlie Grapewin, Margaret Wycherly, Charlie Murray, and Fatty Arbuckle.

Other famous people visited the opera house as well. John L. Sullivan, who is recognized as the first Heavyweight Champion of gloved boxing, participated in an exhibition fight there during his farewell tour after his career ended in 1892.

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